Odgers Berndtson Ademar Couto’s prognosis for Brazil might be contrary to that of the naysayers.
At the time of writing Michel Temeris had taken over the interim presidency while the legislature decides whether or not to impeach president Dilma Rousseff. Couto believes the volatile political situation can be viewed positively. “This is good for Brazil. We are doing something that needs to be done and will lead to a new start.” The will to root out corruption and impose jail terms on the corrupt is setting the tone for the future of the economy – a better future. Yes, commodity prices have slumped and the economy slowed to standstill, but that’s no reason for pessimism, in his view.
“It may not be growing right now, this year, but it will grow in years to come and when things are going badly, that’s when you can buy at the best price and make the best deals,” he says, pointing out that the strong US dollar against the Real offers the perfect opportunity for foreign investors.
Couto highlights what the government has done well over the last 10 years – literacy and numeracy have been extended to around 95 per cent of the population; construction work, driven by the 2016 Olympics, has improved the infrastructure, mainly around Rio de Janeiro, but the skills learned and the investment made have had a wider effect.
All this political turmoil and economic uncertainty doesn’t alter the fundamental pillars that promise growth to companies prepared to invest in the country’s future.
“We have great universities that are considered among the top in the world and lots of talent, not just that graduating out of college, but because, as companies closed, experienced talent was fired,” says Couto, who is currently based in São Paulo, but who has also worked in North America.
Entrepreneurship has run high as a result, but now many of these experienced leaders are ready to assume new positions, he believes.
Couto warns executives new to the country’s ways that they will face challenges unique to Brazil. For example being able to speak Portuguese (or at a pinch, Spanish) is a must.
“I believe that will change, but right now, you need to have some expertise to deal with the ‘machine’ in Brazil,” he explains.
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